Friday, April 24, 2020

Implement Appreciation

In one of the great, emblematic moments of the Coronavirus Crisis at my library, all the big library managers were having an important meeting- because they are all very important meetings- and one of the Branch Managers was weighing in on how much of a toll the curbside pickup was taking on her staff. She said they were badly overworked, understaffed, unsafe, and working in extremely stressful circumstances. In short, they needed help.

So the Library Director, formerly of Marketing, not usually one for big decisions, went ahead and made one:

"It's time," She said flatly "To implement appreciation."

Bold move.

And if you are far away enough from me and my mess of a library system to laugh at the Orwellian outlandishness of such a thing, you might want to reconsider your slightly horrified chuckles and try a few tears instead. Because I am pretty sure the whole country has now switched to this phase: 

Implement Appreciation.

The nice businesses gave their bonuses and paid leave and reassurances. The local municipalities handed out their scraps of extra sick time. The government sent people their modest one time stipends and forgivable small business loans. The Hospitals hired some extra staff and went through their scant supplies of protective gear. Promises were made. We needed to come together as one and look adversity in the eye!

But that's all over now.

Now is the time to implement appreciation.

You hospital orderly getting paid next to nothing, and nurse without a mask working a double shift, thank you! You grocery store worker doing twice the work, facing extra danger, and at the same paltry pay, thank you. Firemen and garbage collectors, nursing home worker and fry cook in the to-go cafe, thank you. Tireless Doctors fighting bureaucracy to give help, low paid delivery drivers, mail carriers, and factory workers in essential services, thank you, thank you, thank you, and thank you!

Will the powerful lessen their grip a little and let the people on the ground make a few decisions based on reality? Will the rich forgo some of their vast fortunes to lighten the load? Will we all come together to feed the poor, take care of the sick, and shelter the cold? Will we do the right thing, with resolve and generosity of spirit?

These are the wrong questions. 

Indeed the time for questions has passed.

Now is the time to say thank you.

Thank you.

Thank you, thank you, thank you.



  1. Although I can't visit libraries these days, I do see a lot of different library websites. After reading your post, I went to the website of the county system where I once worked and poked around a bit. My overall impression? It's cold. Oh, everything is there. I could even send an electronic document and one of you would print it and bring it to me curbside. There are story hours for kids. But where is the humanity?

    One site that pops up regularly in my FB feed has its librarians working from home, but periodically features a librarian sharing books, or pets, or music, from home. Just like Trevor Noah and Stephen Colbert are doing. Some websites say "We miss you! Hang in there and we look forward to seeing you as soon as possible."

    My new library here in NH has Celebrate National Library Week with us." [As I recall, where I used to work paid virtually no attention to National Library Week.] And the next place to click says "DYK...your library staff are busy filming and hosting storytimes, craft projects, STEAM events, book discussions, virtual escape rooms, and more boredom busters! Read on..."

    I could go on, but if I do, I think I'll write a post for my own blog on the subject of how libraries are facing the virus. In general, the difference I see is the depth of the feeling of humanity.

    BTW, has there been any change in the skin tone of your average drive-up customer?

    1. Well, you might be referring to my library then as the cold one from your past. And we are doing an all around terrible job of it, yes, but maybe my point in this post above is that it's par for the course in an unimaginative, hierarchical, deeply class divided, and cold America.

      As to the skin tone, er, or cultural diversity, while it is no longer a shocking 100 percent, it is still 98 to 99 percent that way. The major newspaper in our cities put us on the front page today mainly in response to our curbside pick up, and they blithely reported the company line of how this process supports the poor and underserved, something markedly true of the library, but still miles from the truth in this process.

      Always so nice to get your perspective!


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